Nixon announces $100,000 grant to fund higher education redesign

Tuesday, October 26, 2010 | 1:15 p.m. CDT; updated 1:25 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, October 26, 2010

COLUMBIA — The packed conference room of the Hampton Inn in Columbia erupted in applause Tuesday after Gov. Jay Nixon announced Missouri's universities and colleges will receive a $100,000 grant from state funds.

The grant will finance a course redesign study to reduce program replication in Missouri higher education and cut back on costs.

The Governor’s Summit on Higher Education in August, which detailed budget cuts for public colleges and universities in Missouri, spurred leaders to continue "reimagining higher education in Missouri" and resulted in the statewide workshop in Columbia on academic transformation and collaboration.

Nixon commended university educators for their initiative in participating in the two-day workshop.

"You are vital soldiers and leaders of my state," Nixon said to the collaborators.

Conference sessions focused on how to reduce program overlap between campuses and develop strategies to reduce cost because higher education funding probably won’t increase until the end of the decade, said George Mehaffy, of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

Nixon said Missouri community college enrollment jumped to more than 106,000 and public university enrollment increased 10 percent to more than 255,000, showing a higher demand for quality Missouri education during tough economic times.

Workshops like the one held Monday and Tuesday help meet the new demand, Nixon said.

"Education is not a political view," Nixon said. "That’s a value, a value we share."

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Ellis Smith October 26, 2010 | 3:48 p.m.

What is disturbing is that these changes, improvements, consolidations, etc. only seem to become important and to actually be undertaken when the public higher education establishment has its back to the wall financially.

It would not be difficult for the combined alumni associations of the public colleges and universities to raise $100,000. Gosh, the state's largest public campus recently raised $1 billion, and a much smaller campus easily raised $225 million.

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